by George Paz Martin
And I know from a good friend who was at a small dinner party with progressive supporters, that they asked him, “Why don’t you do the things we thought you stood for?” Obama turned sharply and said, “Don’t you remember what happened to Martin Luther King?”~from Project Unspeakable by Court Dorsey
Project Unspeakable is a play based on actual quotes from the characters speaking or relayed by someone who was there. Statements were edited or reordered to help tell the story of the “unspeakable” assassinations of Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X.
This year’s 13th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Justice Program and March will feature a partial play reading of Project Unspeakable, focusing on the assassination of Dr. King. The event is on Martin Luther King Day, Monday Jan. 20,with the inside program starting at 1PM at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1924 N. 4th St.
The program recognizes Milwaukeeans who knew Dr. King or helped lead the local civil rights movement. It also recognizes community organizations that continue his struggle for justice. This year the program will recognize the “Low Wage Movement” of fast food, food processing and service industry workers organizing for better pay, benefits and unions. Dr. King was assassinated while preparing to march with the Memphis sanitation workers struggling with the same issues.
The Project Unspeakable play reading will focus on Dr. King’s assassination, the investigation and civil trial. Author James Douglass attended every minute of King’s assassination trial. The play was inspired by James Douglass’ groundbreaking and meticulously-researched book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.
The work challenges the silence that for decades has surrounded the assassinations of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X and Dr. King. With a script that has been carefully researched and written by professional playwrights, the Project Unspeakable play is in the best tradition of live “political theatre.”
On November 22, 2013 – the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination – I played the role of Malcolm X in an unabridged presentation of Project Unspeakable. It was staged at the School of the Americas Watch in Columbus, GA before a national diverse and multi-racial audience of hundreds. The play powerfully communicated truths and history that some knew, may have forgotten or never knew. Project Unspeakable received a standing ovation while touching and moving people, raising questions and provoking discussion, controversy and reflection.
Here in Milwaukee, that full, unabridged version of Project Unspeakable will be produced in February.
On King’s Holiday, the Project Unspeakable focus on Martin Luther King, Jr. will bring much to light:
- J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI wrongfully persecuted Dr. King and tried to pit King and Malcolm X against each other.
- King and Malcolm had evolving positions on the civil rights struggle and similar views against war and for economic justice.
- King and Malcolm only met once during the Senate’s debate on civil rights legislation.
- The investigation of King’s assassination resulted in live television conspiracy revelations.
- The King Family’s wrongful death lawsuit found that there was a conspiracy to kill King and that our government was involved in it.
Project Unspeakable addresses the questions and suspicions not only about King’s assassination but also about the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X, all of which happened within a period of less than five years. It’s also an opportunity to learn about or be reminded of the inspiring visions of our leaders.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking to a crowd of sanitation workers the night before he was shot, said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”
If You Go: 13th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day • Justice Program and March • Project Unspeakable. Mon Jan 20, 1PM • St. Francis of Assisi Church • 1924 N. 4th St.
Learn More: Listen to an NPR story by Margot Adler on Project Unspeakable at npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=247967234.